Thursday, August 12, 2010

Comparing Elephants and Irons!

That is what shopping for a caterer is like. Want to see? Oh, ok then!

On the left, we have a very large, very heavy, friendly elephant named Rosie! She loves to eat peanuts and has two, count em!, TWO gleaming white, genuine ivory tusks! But on the right, we have an iron! It's colorful and modern design can make even the most mundane chore of ridding wrinkles FUN! This streamlined iron is equipped with a quirky cork handle, and a steam option for those most stubborn wrinkles.

Which is better, dear readers? Huh? HUH? HUH???

You might be asking, "What the f*%$ does this have to do with finding a caterer?"

And to you, dear reader, I would say, "First off, watch your mouth. Secondly, comparing caterers is clearly exactly like comparing two completely different things. Not like comparing apples and oranges though, because those are toooooooooo similar. No, these caterers are really not even close to the realm of sameness, and are really more like (you guessed it!) elephants and irons."

Let me explain. One caterer broke down every cost of every item. This was a little overwhelming, but at least I know where all the money is going. Like, water glasses or goblets or whatever they are called, they are rented for $0.40 each. OK, great, ridiculous, whatever. (Money makes me stressed, remember?)

But then, another caterer tells me these nuggets of alleged information.
-White china: $7.05 per place setting (What does that include?)
-Wedding Buffet: $33.25 per person (What does this include?)

When I emailed to ask for some clarification and just bluntly asked if she could work with our budget or not, I got this not very helpful response (filled with grammatical errors and typos...automatic turnoff!):

"Just quick math with a $X000.00 budget ( if this if just for food/service/linens/rentals) give me a budget of $46.66 per person. If this is a dinner this will be hard to do. Untill we chat and I now more bout what you are looking for / location etc it’s hard for me to give you a price point cause there are different factors that determine. Most weddings dinners/buffet come within the $95.00 - $135.00 price point."

Um, what is she even talking about here? Is she saying she can't do a $46 per person budget for any type of food (hors d'oeuvres, buffet, etc.) and rentals? What does she mean by "dinner"? And when she says most wedding dinners and buffets come to 95$ a person (OR MORE! SERIOUSLY?!?), does that include alcohol, servers, coffee mugs, everything?

Let's do some math. 95$ per person multiplied by 150 peeps equals.... Wow. I just did the math literally right now. It equals 14 THOUSAND 2 HUNDRED and 50 dollars. And yet still, I have no idea what I would get for this money.

See? Elephants and irons. Let's call the whole thing off!

Everyone tells me it will be OK. That one year, two months, and six days from today, we will get married. There will be food. People will eat it. And the food won't actually matter and we will be married and have a wonderful night. But right now, well, right now I just want to hunker down with, yep, some comfort food (mac n cheese) and some comfort TV (Gilmore Girls, natch).

Have you struggled when comparing various wedding vendors? Was it like apples and oranges, or like elephants and irons?


  1. Hey, it's Hayley! I just wanted to say hang in there! You will figure it all out. I also wanted to suggest Catering Works to you if you haven't talked to them already. I work PT for them and they are a top notch organization that works with EVERY budget. They are so professional and the food is SO GOOD. We just had a 'tasting' last night and o-m-g I wish I were getting married again just so I could order all of their food. Just a suggestion!

  2. Thanks Hayley! I will definitely check them out. It's so good to have a often wedding food is not good. In fact, I always tell people, "The best wedding food I had was at Fearrington!" Y'all had super yummy food! :-)

  3. i recommend starting from a different point - what do you want to eat and drink? who can prepare and serve those things? what do we need so that we can eat and drink those things? who rents/lends those items?

    I loved working with Vimala Rajendran, though she has more of the iron approach. We gave her a budget and we discussed food and drink with her until we had a menu. She went over budget a little, but nothing unreasonable, and not in a way where we couldn't have cut something if we had wanted to.

    Anyway, it's still stressful and the most expensive thing at the wedding, though it is the thing you'll barely have time to enjoy while you're swept up in all the friend and family love.

    good luck purchasing an elephant or an iron or a ironocerousephant.

  4. Fear not, fellow bride/MOH! Ima help you figure out these elephants and irons and call 'em what they are. In my mind our plan of attack should include a really detailed spreadsheet and a little form to send to your potential caterers to get them to break down EXACT cost. lemme think on this...

  5. We had the same problem and I actually was VERY rude to one caterer. We were debating between going with a full service (provided catering) venue and a venue where we needed to bring an outside caterer in. I had NO IDEA how much catering ran, so I asked a few of the venues preferred caterers for sample menus. MANY of them would NOT even talk to me unless I said I had booked the venue. The ones that did talk to me wouldn't really give me accurate pricing. They just kept telling me 'it depends..." but wouldn't ask me clarifying questions. One caterer (the one I got an attitude with) would NOT give me any pricing and said that if I told her my budget, she would tell me if she could work with it. Seriously? If I did that, she could charge whatever she wanted! Crazy lady.

    We ended up going with the full service venue, and I'm so glad we did! Good luck :)

  6. Hey! Just wanted to share that when Chris and I got married we brought our own wine (on the tables) and stocked the bar ourselves. That helped on costs...and we didn't have a choice of caterers because the venue made us use them. So there went an decision! :) Love the comparison of elephants and irons.

  7. My caterer is a bit confusing and not thorough either, plus the grammar thing. Basically anything that sounded fishy or off, I was like, "We don't need you to provide that service!" and found something for cheaper elsewhere. I want things on my terms, you know?

    This might not help, but since you still have a year and some change, you're still a ways away and a billion things could change before the day. So sit down and watch your awesome GG!!

  8. Ahahaha! I laughed out loud at this post - which is terrible because you are clearly miserable. Sorry (composes herself). Yeah, I had this problem when looking at venues but not as bad. You would think they would just all speak the same language!
    I have no advice except to say, good luck!

  9. one thought- that lady sounds like a loser.

    I had one vendor rule- no losers. no one that is going to make our wedding MORE stressful, MORE complicated, and MORE drama.

    If she can't spell correctly, and can't fathom the idea of $46 per person she is NOT who you want to work with.

    I said thanks but no thanks to a florist who couldn't think of ANY way to do our budget without the use of carnations. There was no other flower in nature she could come up with. No thanks, peace out cub scout. There are enough people in the wedding world that will take your 46 dollars of hard earned money and make your dinner dreams come true.

  10. Wow, that's a really high estimate...and totally out there. I priced Catering Works (as suggested above) and it was less than that. I went with Catering By Design because it was the cheapest and the guy was totally nice to work with AND emailed me back all 4,000 times I asked questions about linens, tables, whatnot. So, yeah, stay away from losers. They are not all losers.